Implementation Science Guides GIN to Promising Success as Part of NIDA CTN
Nov 17, 2020 2:00 PM
by Kyle Wheeler
When speaking with Adam Gordon, MD, MPH, it is impossible to miss how much he and other clinicians and researchers around him value making community implementation the true end point of health science research. The Greater Intermountain Node (GIN) embodies the effort of implementation science, under the direction of Dr. Gordon and Gerald T. Cochran, PhD, MSW.
The GIN is a part of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trial Network (CTN) as part of the National Institute of Health. Having been approved and funded in 2019, the GIN is a relatively new kid on the NIDA CTN block. But with existing infrastructure, the GIN has been housed neatly within the Program for Addiction Research, Clinical Care, Knowledge, and Advocacy (PARCKA) and has hit the ground running.
CTN “Provides an enterprise in which NIDA, treatment researchers, and community-based service providers work toward new treatment options in community-level clinical practice.”[i] Dr. Gordon paints a picture where stigma and a host of other complications surrounding addiction make treatment an endeavor that is not straightforward, even when effective treatments are known.
Thus, a network that focuses on researching addiction treatment that can be accessed in community-level clinical practices is an imperative area and avenue of research. But it has also been a monumental opportunity for a collection of research scientists at University of Utah Health.
The GIN operates with two lead studies led by Drs. Gordon and Cochran. There is also opportunity to apply for additional grants on a monthly basis, which has led to funding additional studies. According to a GIN progress report, within the first 12 months this has amounted to over $22 million either actual or obligated funding.
While dollars and cents can be a metric that impresses, the GIN operates with a clear mission that goes beyond funding research. Specifically, it aims to enhance research in primary care settings and leverage data. And perhaps most striking is the aim, “to conduct implementation science research to rapidly and effectively integrate and disseminate evidence-based addiction care.”[ii]
When it comes to revealing the key lines of implementation science, Dr. Gordon’s career is instructive. He notes that his, “research has been in the community. It’s been working with providers in health care arenas. The focus has been to spread addiction care outside of the traditional specialty care arena.”
With experience that is highly relevant to CTN, Drs. Gordon and Cochran are able to conduct research in the GIN with an inquiry being, “can you get primary care doctors to take care of patients with addiction? And for those mild to moderate patients who don’t need a specialty referral, can you treat them effectively within the confines of that primary care?”
The research endeavors of the GIN stand out as a societal and health science imperative. Driving home the point Dr. Gordon notes, “you want to meet the patient where they are. Especially in a society that may stigmatize the illness but also the treatment.”
In continuing to describe the value of implementation science, Dr. Gordon goes on to illustrate that when it comes to addiction treatment, retention is a critical aspect of success that the GIN is focused on. Through that research, the hope is to develop better answers on how to deliver known effective treatments to patients where they are at.
[ii] GIN Progress Report